Thursday Karate Class – 5/29/08 – How to bow and I need to RELAX.

Sensei Cieplik started class with an interesting lesson. After we finished in seiza, we always stand up and bow to Sensei. Sensei said that he was going to tell us how to bow like it was explained to him.

First, the back of our neck needs to touch the collar of our gi throughout the bow. Both feet are together and pointed out about 45 degrees. Bend at the waist and exhale until all air is expelled from the lungs. When bent over, keep your eyes on whoever your are bowing to. After the air is expelled, straighten up and inhale. He also said that the amount we bow is based on rank. If you are bowing to someone of a higher rank than you, you bend over farther. I am very glad that he explained this us since I often just bend for about a second and walk away.

It was cold in the dojo and Sensei had us do a little different warm up than normal. We started shifting in place back an forth. We then threw some jabs and reverse punches. He then had us throw a front leg front snap kick followed with a rear leg front snap kick. After a few mistakes, throwing the double kicks while shifting felt very natural. He said just let the legs flow and do not worry about the power. For the first time it felt as if my legs were whips.

Next we did another new movement. We started with our feet about two feet apart. We then moved our feet together by moving them heel to toe until they were a few inches apart, then we threw a front snap kick and moved our feet back out again. This really got the ankles warmed up well. This movement led into another movement where we were able to move our front foot forward without showing any tells. The idea was to keep our oponent focused on our eyes while we move closer to them.

Then we did front snap kick with front punch. Sensei Wail gave me some good advice on moving my hips forward when doing my kicks. He told me to keep my stationary leg bent and then throw the kick. This forced me to extend my hips when doing the kick. It just goes to show, no matter how much you train, there is always something to learn or improve on.

Sensei had us spend a lot of time working on moving forward into zenkutsu dachi with soto uke, into kiba dachi with empi and uraken. He often speaks of the salad bowl movement. This does not mean like a salad bowl, instead you move in the curved shape of the inside of a salad bowl. When moving from the front stance into the horse stance, you load up somewhat on the back leg then move in a downward curve, under your opponents arm and into their ribs.

We also did some normal combinations. He explained the difference between rising block and rising strike. With a rising block, your moves almost vertical until just before it gets to about head level, then it turns horizontal and the wrist turns.

We were also working on back stance with knife hand block, front snap kick and front stance with nukite. Sensei had us do this move in a narrow line even for the front stance with nukite. The idea was to realize that our attacker is not necessarily right in front of us. They might be off to one side or even moving away.

Another point that he made was about balance. An athlete is on the line between white and black and those who are not athletes are in the grey area.

We did a few kata’s. We started with Tekki Shodan. My kata felt really slow but extremely strong.

Sensie sent us 3rd kyu’s off to the side with Sensei Wail to work on Jion. Sensei Wail had us work on the movements after the second front snap kick with sanbon zuki. He said to reach, move into a cat stance and block, then move into a front stance and punch. Doing the move as he counted was simple enough but putting all together and executing it at a fast pace wasn’t easy for me but the more times we did it, the better it felt. He also had us work in the cross leg stance with the X-block and moving back into the front stance. He said to squeeze our legs together in the the cross leg stance and when moving back into the front stance, tighten the hamstrings and grip the floor.

After this, Sensie Cieplik called us back to see our Jion. There were five of us in front and he gave each of us advice on what to work on and improve. He told me that it is fine to put my heart into my kata but that I need to RELAX. Being too intense and trying too hard doesn’t allow the kata to flow like it should. He had mentioned in the past that kata should be poetry for the eyes.

Another great tip is when saying the name of the kata, make sure it comes from the lower abdomen and not the chest or throat. If you say if from the throat, your head will move forward much like a crane bird.

I was able to talk with Sensei for a while after class and he made a comment about leaving class with more each time. He wants everyone to leave with something more than they came to class with. Now, this could mean even more frustration but that can lead to solutions to issues or problems that you might be having with your Karate. Learning more or having more to work on is still more.

I am sure there was more good stuff but there is just so much, I am lucky that I remembered what I did.

I really felt in the zone tonight. My body was working better than usual and Sensei did sign both my wifes and my exam papers.

About doug

Doug is a Shotokan Karate student that enjoys sharing his Karate training experiences with everyone. He is a Computer Consultant, an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer, blogger and a freelance writer..

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